Four Dead Queens Review

Title: Four Dead Queens
Author: Astrid Scholte
Published: March2019
Publisher: Allen and Unwin
Readership: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy, Mystery
Rating: ★★★★.5
RRP: $19.99 AUD

I received a copy of Four Dead Queens from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Four Queens. A divided nation. A ruthless pickpocket. A noble messenger. And the murders that unite them.

Seventeen-year-old Keralie Corrington is one of Quadara’s most skilled thieves, but when she steals an unexpectedly valuable package from a messenger she is soon entangled in a conspiracy that leads to all four of Quadara’s queens being murdered.

With no other choices and on the run from her former employer, Keralie teams up with Varin Bollt, the Eonist messenger she stole from, and together they race to discover who has killed the queens. But when dark secrets threaten their reluctant partnership and put everything at stake, Keralie and Varin must use all their daring to stay alive and untangle the mysteries behind the nation’s four dead queens.

An enthralling fast-paced murder mystery where competing agendas collide with deadly consequences, Four Dead Queens heralds the arrival of an exciting new YA talent.

Wow, what a ride!

Four Dead Queens is the sci-fi/fantasy-mystery debut from #loveozya author, Astrid Schotte. It’s a fast-paced read that includes murder, thieves and double-crossing in almost constant rotation.

Set in the queendom of Quadara, four queens rule together, representing the four nations within the kingdom, until they are each systematically murdered within the palace walls, leaving the fate of the queendom in uncertainty.

At the same time, street thief, Keralie, is charged with stealing a package from an unknown messenger, and unwittingly involves herself in the murders. She has to find new allies and unravel the mystery she’s uncovered.

This story was just a lot of fun. Told in alternating POVs, switching (initially) from Keralie to each of the queens we get to learn about Quadara, it’s politics and the relationships all of these characters have with one another in quick succession. Quasar is a fully-fleshed out place, that blends science-fiction and fantasy elements beautifully. I love how each of the four queens represents a nation that is different to the next – from an agricultural society, to the arts, technology driven and commerce driven towns, each is unique and contributes to Quadara as a whole.

Keralie is a wonderful main character – she’s strong and determined, but she has a past and she’s trying to make up for it. She recognises right from wrong, and tries to do the right thing when confronted with the reality of what she’s uncovered begins to become clear.

Likewise, the queens are all very unique individuals, and bound by the Queenly Laws that, while there for their protection, are prohibitive in the extreme. The contrast between having a very young queen (Stessa, in her teens) to an older, more experienced one (Marguerite, who’s late thirties/early forties) also made their situation more interesting. There’s conflict there, but also a lot of understanding.

There’s a lot to love in this book, and much of it, were I to write about it, would spoil aspects of the story, but I do highly recommend it. It’s a wonderful young adult fantasy – and a standalone, too! – and it’s well worth a read.

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